The following are more guidelines than strict rules but they are in place because, when adhered to earnestly, they facilitate the achievement of the best possible dialogue and connection amongst the participants. Incorporate these 10 guidelines into your Nexus Labs for effective results:
1) EQUALS PEOPLES
All participants in Nexus Labs are 100% equal and bring equal value to the discussion. We do not take, gender, ethnicity, culture, education, hierarchy or socio-economic background into consideration when working together in the circle. We only focus on the one central thing we have in common, that we are human.
- Avoid ranking, discriminating or pandering
2) STAY ON POINT
The circle should remain with each single topic of discussion we are given. We should trust the instructors and moderators to develop the point. We, the participants should not attempt to develop our own individual concepts or drive the conversation away from the central topic.
- Focus on the process.
- Avoid skewing or slanting the discussion
3) CLOSE THE CIRCUIT
A closed circuit is one where electrical current can flow and power is produced. The same principle applies to a Discussion Circle. Everyone in the circle is given the opportunity to speak on the subject. Only by encouraging and even compelling everyone to speak can we achieve an environment where each opinion and thought is represented and each person is invested in and responsible for contributing to the common outcome.
4) LISTEN IN
Participants take an active listening approach while in the circle. We should listen into the “center of the circle” with objectivity and empathy focusing on feeling and connecting to the speaker as best we can. We may not necessarily agree with the opinions of the others however this is by no means the goal. The purpose and intention of this exercise isn’t to come to ultimate agreement but rather to come an understanding of each other.
- The opinions, thoughts and feelings of others have value
- My opinions, thoughts and feelings have value
- Our opinions may vary but they are equal in importance
Within the safety of the circle we are against being against one another or “anti-anti”. We are confronted by arguments, criticism and judgment every day and everywhere. Sometimes we are even guilty of such confrontations ourselves. Nexus Labs present us with a new opportunity to use conversation as a means of reaching out to each other in a positive way without judgement.
- Avoid formulating opinions about others (positive or negative).
- Avoid both praise and criticism of others.
- Avoid commentary (positive or negative).
Nexus Labs are not conversations as we typically know them. There are no questions asked of each other, no “give and take” and no “side conversations”. Participants within the circle are encouraged to remain within the flow of the discussion by actively listening and containing any impulse to disrupt that flow.
- Avoid agreement and disagreement.
- Avoid approval or disapproval.
- Avoid questions or answers.
Equality and opportunity are what preserves the flow of the Round Out. Any interruption creates a break in the circuit. As a guideline to help; focus on speaking into the center of the circle and only on the current topic.
Often the most challenging part of participating in the Discussion Circle is overcoming our negative compulsions. We have been conditioned from our first introduction to language to think of conversation in competitive terms. Here we have another opportunity to place ourselves in the thoughts and feelings of others.
- Avoid rejection, antagonism, irritation
- Focus on humility, consideration and objectivity
We strive to connect as a group and together overcome them through a common effort, dismissing all that divides us in order to recognize what unites us. This is accomplished only when we yield to one another. We must embrace these opportunities for mutual advancement and growth.
8) STRIVE FOR SINCERITY
Every participant should attempt to speak as much from the heart and as little from the head as possible. The best results come when participants speak openly and honestly with feeling rather than only attempting to present themselves as knowledgeable.
- Avoid speaking “intelligently”.
- Avoid catchphrases and clichés.
- Avoid preconceived notions.
9) ONE AIM
Our only aim throughout this exercise is to build an environment that supports all the participants through care and concern. We don’t focus on achieving results or finding solutions but rather to reach a connection amongst us. We are not here to prove a point or show off. We are here to express ourselves, share our stories, and attempt to understand the viewpoints of others. Therefore the outcome we seek is only to come to a deeper understanding of each other and not to solve problems. All problems are solved through our better connection
10) COMMON OUTCOME
Our common outcome is guaranteed through our completion of the exercise. How and what the end result will be is unpredictable by nature. However, the outcome is always consistent. Through understanding and empathy we evoke a new sensation amongst us and the conclusion is formed organically without anyone having pushed for the finish.
- Avoid concern over an “end result”
- Focus on the connection